Court orders Interior to halt plans for e-mail upgrade

A judge with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims has ordered the Interior Department to halt its process for selecting a company to upgrade the department's e-mail system.

The preliminary injunction by Judge Susan Braden unsealed on Tuesday was a win for Google in its lawsuit against Interior that claimed the department's selection process favored competitor Microsoft.

Braden said Interior appeared to have "violated the [1984] Competition in Contracting Act," and noted the department's "failure to list Google's repeated express interest in this procurement cannot be explained as an oversight," a report in the Wall Street Journal said. The opinion is not yet available electronically but will be posted on the Court of Federal Claims' website in a few days, according to a court official.

Google's lawsuit against Interior, filed Oct. 29, 2010, claimed the department's bidding process virtually guaranteed that Microsoft would win the contract.

A Google spokesman lauded the decision: "As a proponent of open competition on the Internet and in the technology sector in general, we're pleased with the court's decision."

In a statement, Microsoft said, "The Department of the Interior determined that the dedicated, U.S.-based cloud solution offered by Microsoft met its minimum security and other requirements after a careful and thorough evaluation, and that Google's solution did not. The judge's decision does not address this fundamental determination. We believe the full record will demonstrate that this award is in the best interest of the government and taxpayers."

Interior Department officials declined to comment on the ruling.

Staff correspondent Brian Kalish contributed to this report.

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